Nan is a geographically isolated town in the north of Thailand. Situated at the banks of Nan River in a wide plain, two mountain chains separate it from western and eastern neighbours. The province of Nan is bordering Laos in the east with Sanyaburi as a next town east of it.
Nan and Sanyaburi are separated by the Luang Prabang Mountain Chain. The highest mountain here is Doi Phu Kha (2,079m), close to the Laotian border. At the western horizon of the town stretches the Phi Pan Nam Mountain Chain, cutting it off the next western province Phayao.
In the years until 2011 the main road from Uttaradit via Phrae has been improved, and Nan became one of the notorious highway circles, leading around the town and being the backbone for a continuing, grand-style urbanization. The other direction to enter or to leave Nan is the northern route via Chiang Kham or border crossing Laos. The improvement of the road connection via Laos to China will trigger more traffic, trade and pollution here. It comes with a new bridge over the Mekong River at Ban Pak Beng.
Although there are a few traces of stone-age people, settlements here dont' date back further than to around 1280 CE. As a small, geographically isolated principality, Nan was over longer times independent. However, all the neighbouring states were larger and more powerful and annexed the principality over times. So it came first for a short time under the control of the kingdom of Sukhothai, soon later under the rule of the kings of Lanna and, from 1558 and again from 1714 on, under that of Burma. After the final Burmese retreat in 1788, Nan gained again a kind of independence. In the French-Siamese treaty of 1893, Nan lost part of it's easter territories to then French Indochina; these land is now part of neighbouring Laos. Remarkably, it became incorporated into the Siamese state as late as 1931. Nan's remotness and the large, dense forests made it a good terrain for guerilla warfare, what was a reason for a part of the Semi Thai resistance to operate here in the region in the Second World War. In the 1960s and 1970s, the communist insurgents of the People's Liberation Army of Thailand (PLAT) fought here against the Thai army.
The economy is based mostly on agriculture. The massive logging of the last remaining forests is part of it, together with fishing, rice production and vegetables and fruits. Tourism is massively on the rise and makes now also a considerable part of the economy.